Sinless, but life is still not perfect…

Blog Published: December 8, 2010
By Sister Maxine Kollasch
Immaculate Conception

This morning, I tried to imagine a life free from sin. It was a lot harder than I expected.

My ponderings were inspired by today’s feast day, the Immaculate Conception of Mary. According to Catholic doctrine, from the first moment of Mary’s existence, God preserved her from original sin and filled her with grace. Doctrine tells us that Mary remained sinless throughout her life.

What caused my difficulty was that I equated a sinless life with a perfect life. After all, if I never sinned, wouldn’t my life be perfect? Even if the people around me weren’t perfect, shouldn’t sinlessness protect me, so that stuff like anger or violence or greed wouldn’t impinge upon my perfect life?

Then I thought about Mary. She was sinless, yet her life was far from perfect. At one point, Mary faced the prospect of being a single mom in a culture that looked down on unmarried mothers. When she was ready to give birth, she and Joseph were on the road, not with family who could help with the birth and the new baby. Her son Jesus was a great guy, but the ups and downs of his life greatly affected Mary, and she stayed with him through it all. Despite her sinlessness, Mary was one of us – a person who experienced joy and sorry, who cared for her family and neighbors, and who loved deeply.

So, maybe a sinless life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not that I have to worry about it. Sorta like water under the bridge on that one. But Mary shows me that what matters is not a sinless or a perfect life. What matters is the fullness of life—the ability to embrace my own humanity and that of others, with all its eccentricities, joys, weaknesses, and challenges.

What message does Mary have for you today? Happy Feast Day!

Archived Comments

Sr Miriam osb December 8, 2010 at 11:56 am

Thanks for an excellent reflection. I have recently discover your wonderful website. It’s really inspiring.

Sister Maxine December 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Happy feast to you and your sisters, Sr Miriam!

kbart December 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Another wonderful blog posting my friend. Thanks for helping me to focus on what Mary is all about. Now a question for mom in this time of holiday preparation – do you suppose Mary has a good Rugelach recipe in her spiritual recipe box?

Sister Maxine December 9, 2010 at 8:03 am

Wouldn’t be surprised, Kbart — imagine that she has an extensive spiritual recipe box!

marla December 10, 2010 at 12:40 am

this was a lovely and funny post, sr. max. maybe sinning is a coping mechanism….lol.

Jennifer December 11, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Dear Sister, I discovered your blog today and find these posts of great comfort and solace in my life right now. I hope you can shed a little light on something for me. Lately the desire to pursue the path of becoming a nun has resurfaced in my mind. I am at college in junior year studying political science, my studies are going well and I’m a very bright student. I’m multilingual and a member of Mensa, I could not be happier in respect to my approach to college and a potential “career”. But I find the rest of my life surprisingly empty and dead-ended. I’m very distrustful of people, I was brought up in an atheistic household but despite this I have a deep reverence of God and life long held belief. I have never had any interest in sex and despise the way I am made to feel by men. I feel as if I don’t belong in marriage to men but I’m not interested in women. I feel like there’s a distant meaning to life but I don’t know how to figure out whether it’s religious or not.

Sister Julie December 15, 2010 at 7:25 am

Dear Jennifer, Many thanks for writing to us. Sister Maxine and I will talk a bit about this on the Ask Sister podcast this Friday. Hope you can tune in and join us in the chat room. Otherwise, the podcast will be available for download later. Our prayers are with you, Jennifer.

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